RFI’s rhetoric on China’s interactions with Taliban is straw man argument
Published: Jul 18, 2021 10:13 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Some Western media outlets have recently paid close attention to the interactions between China and the Taliban. Radio France Internationale (RFI) Chinese on Sunday published an article saying some observers have noticed the Chinese government's unique stance over the Taliban: While China is fighting against Islamist extremist forces at home, it is accommodating and tolerating the Taliban.

Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region suffered thousands of terrorist attacks between 1990 and 2016, which gravely impaired social security and was detrimental to the life and property of people of all ethnic groups in the region. China's decisive actions have been taken against terrorist forces in Xinjiang, instead of Islam. 

The rhetoric that China is accommodating and tolerating the Taliban is groundless as well. As the situation in Afghanistan changes, most countries are concerned that the Taliban would be a major force affecting the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. China's interaction with the Taliban is the same as that of other countries, in a bid to promote the country's peace process and achieve peace and stability in the whole region.

"What the Chinese government has targeted in Xinjiang is terrorist forces. Its exchanges with the Taliban are a part of China's diplomacy. It has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity. The rhetoric by RFI is totally a so-called straw man argument. It attempts to provoke dissatisfaction and hatred of the international community, especially the Islamic world, toward China. This is another embodiment of how some Western media outlets have been distorting, smearing, and slandering China's policies on Xinjiang," Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The Taliban's spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said in early July that the group sees China as a "friend" to Afghanistan, according to the South China Morning Post. This has also drawn wide attention from Western media. "They reason why they are concerned about China's interactions with the Taliban is because they worry that China will expand its influence in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal, or even fill the power vacuum left in the country, and then replace the US in Afghanistan," Qian noted. 

Afghanistan is one of China's important neighboring countries. Its stability is of great significance to China's pivotal interests. As a responsible major power, China has all along actively supported the peace process in Afghanistan and been making efforts in this regard.

China will be very prudent and does not attempt to expand its influence. China is not going to fill the power vacuum left by the withdrawal of US troops, which forcibly invaded Afghanistan with an ambitious attempt to reshape Afghanistan.

China's positioning as a friendly neighboring country to Afghanistan will not change, nor will the country change the basic principle of non-interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs. Beijing will only provide necessary help with its capabilities, and will never pursue to dominate Kabul.

US President Joe Biden on July 8 said the US would withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by August 31. The situation in Afghanistan has entered a critical stage. The US and its NATO allies are to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan in an irresponsible manner, creating security black hole in the country. 

What the international community, especially the US and Western countries, should do at the moment is to explore how to assure the peace and stability of Afghanistan as well as the whole region, rather than groundlessly hype China's "attention" in Afghanistan, drive a wedge between China and the Islamic world, or see China's moves in Afghanistan in a zero-sum mindset.